Social orgs demand special attention on Muslims welfare in 12th Plan

New Delhi: Over 15 social organisations have taken up the cause of rights and welfare of Muslims in a meeting with the full bench of the Planning Commission and urged members to learn from the mistakes of 11th 5-Year Plan and rectify those mistakes in the 12th Five Year Plan which is in the final stages of completion. They pointed out that ‘invisibility of minorities (Muslims)’ in the mainstream, lack of extra efforts to monitor and ‘presence of institutionalised prejudice’ at the operational and implementation level have been some of the reasons for non-implementation and non-utilisation of the special provisions made for the minorities, i.e., Muslims. For example, it is found that most of the progress under area development schemes like Multi-Sectoral Development Plans (MSDP) for minority-concentrated districts and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalas don’t reach Muslim-concentrated areas, according to S.M. Hilal of the Foundation for Civil Liberties, one of the social groups. He said that some very good and fruitful schemes were there in the 11th Plan like those for setting up new model schools on the pattern of Kendriya Vidayalas and polytechnics in minority-majority districts, i.e., where Muslims lived in large numbers, did not get any benefits from these schemes because these do not come under Prime Minister’s 15-point programme. S.M. Hilal who is a member of the Planning Commission’s Steering Committee, further said that even when Muslims are said to be more concentrated in urban areas, Muslim-concentrated towns like the 338 towns with 20%+  population in the country do not benefit from M.S.D. Projects.

Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD, while strongly criticising the government and its bureaucratic and executing agencies, said that many schemes are made for the welfare of minorities (Muslims) and large funds are allotted but when these are reviewed at the ground level to find out their beneficial effect, it is discovered that other minorities have benefited while funds allocated for Muslims have not been utilised and they remained denied their due benefits. She said that all this is because of institutional prejudices which result in the non-implementation of these plans and schemes at the ground level in Muslim-concentrated areas. She suggested that for this, a mechanism of accountability should be formulated, in addition to ‘goading’ and sensitizing the bureaucracy, police and ground level executing authorities and personnel about the prevailing prejudice and institutionalised discrimination faced by the minorities (Muslims). Moreover, she said that as compared to other marginalised communities, the funds allocated for the Muslim minority was insufficient and too meagre. Giving figures, she said that in 2011-12 budget whereas the per head amount assigned was Rs. 138 only for Muslims, for S.C. and S.T. it was Rs. 1,228 and Rs. 1,450 respectively. She, therefore, demanded that the budget allocated for Muslims should be substantially increased. She said that another distressing fact was that even this meagre amount was not being fully utilised. She suggested new initiatives for Muslim women, i.e., their literacy/education and skills development. She suggested special attention in areas like Mewat and minority-concentrated areas in Bihar and Assam. She said that the school dropout rate among Muslim girls is high and hence schemes for special classes for girls should be prepared. She further said that the attitude of the bureaucracy being as it is, i.e., prejudiced and unhelpful, voluntary social organisations’ and NGOs’ cooperation should be obtained, who are playing important roles in the promotion of education and other welfare and developmental projects.

Ramzan Chaudhary of Mewat Vikas Sabha, one of the speakers complained that discrimination was meted out to Mewat at the political and administrative levels. He said that earlier Mewat was not a backward region but under a planned conspiracy, it was deliberately turned into a backward area. He said that before independence, literacy percentage in Mewat was 30 but today it is only 5 percent - the lowest in the country. He said that MDP Board was constituted in Haryana and Rajasthan but its benefits also were confined to majority communities. S.M. Hilal, while adding to his earlier intervention, said that villages also should be included in MSDP scheme and that the government should engender the feeling of safety and security among the minorities (Muslims) on a priority basis. He said that a proposal regarding the progress of 100 most backward villages was sent by the Union ministry for minorities welfare which the Planning Commission should accept in toto. The speakers expressed these views in a press conference held at Women’s Press Club on 26 April.
MG News Desk

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2012 on page no. 3

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